Want to know an easy way to potentially save hundreds of pounds a year? Simply scrutinise your bank and credit card accounts for subscriptions and recurring payments – some of which you may not even know you have. They may be regular monthly, or even yearly, payments. Find out what they are and if you don’t want them – or can’t identify them – stop them.
Why are you shelling out like this? It’s a Continuous payment authority (CPA) that you can agree to without realising when you give a firm your credit or debit card details. For example, you might buy cosmetics or seeds unaware that you’re agreeing to buy more every month or so. Or perhaps you’ve signed up for a free subscription that lasts for a month then, at the end, the CPA kicks in without you expecting it. Often we don’t notice and banks and credit cards generally don’t give you a list of them.
These recurring payments are not standing orders or direct debits. The former is set by you for a certain amount to be paid from your current account usually every month or year. The latter gives a firm permission to take money from your bank account as and when it likes – perhaps to pay for electricity or a mobile phone. But the firm must give you notice of the amount, the date and the frequency of payment – and also of any change. The Direct Debit Guarantee ensures that your bank refunds any payment wrongly taken.
Continuous payment authorities have none of these protections. However, you can easily stop them by telling your bank or credit card provider that you no longer authorise the payment. The bank must then stop it. If it lets a subsequent payment through it must refund you. You should also contact the firm and tell it that you didn’t know you had subscribed and are stopping the payments. It may say you have a contract and must carry on paying. Usually that can be ignored. If the firm is in the UK and you do have a contract then check when you can end it.
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Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4. To read more of his advice, see radiotimesmoney.com
QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com.